Mlle. Moriaz took no part in this conversation. Her face slightly contracted, buried in her thoughts as in a solitude inaccessible to earthly sounds, her cheek resting in the palm of her left hand, she held in her right hand a paper-cutter, and she kept pricking the point into one of the grooves of the table on which her elbow rested, while her half-closed eyes were fixed on a knot of the mahogany. She saw in this knot the Isthmus of Panama, San Francisco, the angelic countenance of the beautiful Polish woman who had given birth to Count Abel Larinski; she saw there also fields of snow, ambuscades, retreats more glorious than victories, and, beyond all else, the bursting of a gun and of a man’s heart.
She arose, and saluted her father without a word. In crossing the salon she perceived that M. Larinski had forgotten a book he had left on the piano when he came in. She opened the volume; he had written his name on the top of the first page, and Antoinette recognised the handwriting of the note.
Shut up in her own room, while taking down and combing her hair, her imagination long wandered through California and Poland. She compared M. Larinski with all the other men she ever had known, and she concluded that he resembled none of them. And it was he who had written: “I arrived in this village disgusted with life, sorrowful and so weary that I longed to die. I saw you pass by, and I know not what mysterious virtue entered into me. I will live.”
It seemed to her that for long years she had been seeking some one, and that she had done well to come to the Engadine, because here she had found the object of her search.
Two, three, four days passed without Count Larinski reappearing at the Hotel Badrutt, where every evening he was expected. This prolonged absence keenly affected Mlle. Moriaz. She sought an explanation thereof; the search occupied part of her days, and troubled her sleep. She had too much character not to conceal her trouble and anxiety. Those about her had not the least suspicion that she asked herself a hundred times in the twenty-four hours: “Why does he not come? will he never come again? is it a fixed resolution? Does he blame us for drawing out, by our questions, the secret of his life? or does he suspect that I have discovered him to be the writer of the anonymous letter? Will he leave Engadine without bidding us good-bye? Perhaps he has already gone, and we shall never see him again.” This thought caused Mlle. Moriaz a heart-burn that she had never before experienced. Her day had come; her heart was no longer free: the bird had allowed itself to be caught.
Mlle. Moiseney said to her one evening: “It seems certain to me that we never shall see Count Larinski again.”
She replied in an almost indifferent tone, “No doubt he has found people at Cellarina, or elsewhere, who are more entertaining than we.”